Brief encounter

The interplay between barrister and solicitor … Did Junior Junior’s female friend at the bar get a big brief because the solicitor fancied her? … Surely it’s her legal skills that are in demand?  

The relationship between solicitor and barrister ranges from symmetry to fraught, with lots of permutations in between.

On its good days, barristers and solicitors delight in each others company and engage in mutual appreciation of their respective legal talents and knowledge, producing the perfect opera that is a winning case.

On bad days, the ship in Aliens looks an attractive place into which to move your chambers.

I am always intrigued to hear stories of the subtle interplay between barrister and solicitor.  

Many relationships have stood the test of time, unpaid fees and sexual indiscretions. 

Others are a misplaced birthday email away from implosion.

Recently a baby barrister friend told me a disturbing story …

She was briefed to provide some advice and drafting on a big matter by a very nice solicitor. 

The brief would take quite a while and so the two struck up a friendship over emails and conferences.

The solicitor lived in a different city, but would visit the barrister when he was in town and they would have lunch.

The relationship developed and, to the baby barrister’s distress, the solicitor started sending her little tokens of appreciation – flowers here and wine there, and on one occasion a gourmet hamper for her birthday.

The barrister was not interested in pursuing anything other than a professional relationship and was unsure how she should handle the solicitor’s looming birthday. 

Should she ignore it, send a present, a card? Ultimately, she thought a modest birthday email would be friendly, but suitably reserved. 

Around the same time, the two of them chanced upon each other in the street. 

The barrister was with her fiancé and after an awkward introduction, the solicitor hurried off to a “meeting”. 

Within a few days our baby barrister received an email from her solicitor in the big matter. 

Her services would no longer be required and to please return the brief.

She was shocked as well as a little relieved that the unwanted attention would be finally over. 

She popped the brief in the DX.  It was the last she heard from him.

For a baby barrister, the loss of a substantial brief is cause to lock oneself in a darkened room with several bottles of vodka and not surface for a week. 

I’m pleased to report that she remained surprisingly unfazed and simply caught up with her friends for a pow wow at Lindt.  

How very Sigourney Weaver of her. 

Junior Junior reporting